Less Serious Business

Windows Oh, what fools we mortals be. No reason in particular for me to realise this now, but it’s been in my head all morning. Motherhood is, among other things, an education in just shaking your head and carrying on, figuring “it’s mildly weird but not hurting anyone.” One’s metric for deciding “how worried will I get about this” goes something like: 1. Is anyone dead? 2. Is anyone bleeding? 3. Is anyone otherwise injured? 4. Will anyone die from this in the next 24 hours? 5. Is there major property damage? If all that is no, there’s no need for crisis mode. It’s taken me a long time to stop using crisis mode for small things, mostly because I was trained very harshly, from a very young age, to consider any small change in an adult’s mood as a potential explosion.

I had a big long post about serious business in my head for today, but it’s been pretty grim around here lately, so I’m shelving that. The weekend was full of all sorts of crazy–I unfortunately had to go to the grocer’s on Friday so the Princess could make homemade Nutella as a birthday present for one of her friends. It was madness, and the madness didn’t end there. I suppose American football (bread and circuses, bread and circuses) makes people a little odd. Sunday morning, while I was out for my run, I was almost run over twice by weaving drunkards who had decided to kick the game off early. I saw other instances of bad driving and some more out and out “too blitzed to be on the road.” Add insomnia Saturday night to the mix, and I was ready for the weekend to be over, over, over.

So today, I have tea, bread dough is rising, and I’m washing sheets. (It’s about damn time, I didn’t get a lot of housework done yesterday.) I’ve figured out why the superspies-with-viruses book wasn’t working–I was writing the wrong scene. Too much boyfriend and not enough roller derby. I’m about to shake that up with a convenience-store robbery and some good old-fashioned fisticuffs. Also, there’s citric acid in the bread dough, since I want more sourdough tang than I’m getting, even with starter or levain.

I also realized, recently, that I hadn’t been filling the creative well enough. I can’t keep up a breakneck writing pace without giving the internal engine visual and textual food. So I’m building more movie-watching and much more reading into my schedule, even if it means I have to meet a deadline a week early instead of a month. (TORTURE. SHEER TORTURE. I like being early.) I binged on Kurosawa and Bogie/Bacall, and now I’m needing something pretty but without a lot of plot meatiness. Which means at some point today I’m to go through the DVDs, to find pretty shinies for the Muse to snack on.

As for textual, well, Ulysses isn’t really feeding much. I enjoy the allusions, of course, and the glimpses of historical Dublin. But I find Stephen Dedalus an insufferable, pretentious twit of an authorial insertion. Adulterous Bloom isn’t much better–I can see why Penelope/Molly would cuckold him–but at least his POV is enjoyable. I understand the literary devices Joyce is playing with, but the aroma of dead white man in the pages makes the game rather less enjoyable. I’ll finish it–I can’t do otherwise, now it’s a personal labor, much as cleaning the Augean stables–but having finished it, I doubt I’ll ever revisit. Historical and informative, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I can’t wait to go back to Pliny. Who is a dead white guy too, but at least he didn’t indulge in such blatant authorial insertion.

And there we have it. A lean banquet indeed.

photo by: Exothermic

Interpretive Gif Dance

*sigh*

My day started like this:

whatevs

With Odd Trundles beginning to groan at 5am that he needed to peeeeeeeeeeee, despite having been out before bedtime last night. His real goal, of course, was climbing onto my bed when he got back inside, because I will occasionally on a Sunday let him do so. The fact that I did not this morning–I wanted another little bit of sleep before my alarm rang–has made the Cruelest and Most Unjust of Humans.

And then there was this:

run away

What happens when a car backfires while Lili and B are running? LOTS OF ADRENALINE, THAT’S WHAT. Also, getting home and checking email, and taking a deep breath to open the filtered emails, and seeing the toxicity in there. Dear trolls, maybe you should take up knitting? You seem a little wound up.

And now it’s like this:

jared is disappoint

Because I accidentally dumped a quarter-cup of heavy cream in my tea, and couldn’t drink it, as my arteries began screaming as soon as I looked at it. (Waste of a good cuppa. Sigh, again.) And Trundles is groaning because he’s finished his morning nap but Miss B is exhausted from running so she won’t play with him, the Mad Tortie is wailing to go outside, I have on three layers of eyeliner already, and these characters won’t stop kissing.

ugh

Wake me up when it’s bedtime.

Constant Calculus

happy Yesterday was warm and damp while I was running. I arrived home feeling rather like moss was about to erupt all over me. Fortunately, a hot shower and dry clothes cured that, and I am already seeing the benefits of settling back into the base-building part of my training. Well, that and the almost-gallon of water I’m drinking daily. I’d forgotten what being fully hydrated felt like.

The Princess is determined to grow catnip in her room. I am unconvinced of the wisdom of this plan, but have supplied the necessary instruments for her to embark. She might learn what potting soil on her sheets feels like, if the Mad Tortie has one of her Moments.

I had also forgotten what it felt like to be out from under the mod queue. The sheer volume of nastiness arriving on a daily basis was insidious–I hadn’t thought it was affecting me so badly, but now that I don’t have to deal with it I’m experiencing a sudden flush of energy. (The kitchen floor has never been cleaner, the garden has never been neater, and my God, I will wash those kitchen cabinets soon or there will be TROUBLE.) “Don’t feed the trolls” didn’t work. (It never does, really.) What worked was closing comments down and putting the contact form up–now the IPs are logged and I can set filters to automatically archive evidence of nastiness I don’t have to see unless I make a conscious decision to check. Oddly, once the autoreplies of “Your IP address has been logged and your communications retained as evidence” go out, things get much more civil.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to not have this constant calculus of “where is the next harassment going to come from” going on inside my head. Men do not seem to understand the energy drain of being aware and ready to fend off threats. I saw an ad for an otherwise very cool company that does meditation support, showing a man meditating on a park bench. They didn’t seem to realize that as a female, I can’t afford to do shit like that, and very likely wouldn’t be allowed to just sit in a public place without several people (all male) assuming that their need to invade the space of a total stranger trumps my desire (and, really, perfect right) to sit quietly. Or even walk down the street.

I’m lucky, in that I don’t have to leave the house that much, but that’s no goddamn solution. Being naturally extremely introverted, going out is a double whammy of men assuming I need them to offer their opinions on me and the toll crowds and public spaces naturally take on introverts.

In any case, I’ve reclaimed a large chunk of my energy, and as a result, there is bread dough and soft-pretzel dough rising next to my office heater. There’s projects I am suddenly full steam ahead on, and a feeling of liberation doing marvelous things for the rest of my life.

And, I swear by the gods, I will get those cabinets cleaned.

Over and out.

photo by: huntz

Singing to Favas

faaaava

Favas are a good winter crop. They fix nitrogen, are very cold-resistant (these survived our latest freeze quite wonderfully) and they enjoy being sung to. This crop particularly enjoys Broadway, though I don’t have the lungpower to really treat the songs as they deserve anymore. Astonishingly, they also like Ronnie Milsap and Hall & Oates.

The things we do for our gardens. I’m sure the neighbors have now decided I am utterly nuts, between the squirrels and the stirring rendition of “Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat” I gave the favas the other day.

Comment Is…Free?

dream landscape 2 I write this with a somewhat heavy heart.

I’ve closed down comments. Spam was only incidentally a consideration, the larger one being trolls and the still larger one the attempts of a stalker or two to reach me in the comments section. Fans can still reach me in the other usual ways–social media like Twitter and my Facebook author page–and there is always my Contact page, of course.

I love my regular commenters, but weeding through the mod queue came with too high an energy/emotion price tag.

Sheesh. Now I’m all choked up. I’m off to do more words for you, dear Readers.

photo by:

STORM WATCHER Re-Release!

Storm Watcher - 600x900x300 All Mariamne Niege wants is to finish her thesis and get a job. Unfortunately, she’s a Guardian now, and her visions of the future have grown so intense she’s blind to the world while in their grip. Her Watcher, Hanson, is sleeping on her couch and scaring her roommates when he’s not shepherding her through the visions and calming her worsening nightmares. Then the earthquakes start, warning of an even bigger disaster—a cataclysm that could level her beloved city and claim countless innocent lives. A disaster her visions say are triggered by Hanson, even though he’s sworn to protect her.

Hanson joined the Watchers to atone for a life of lies, but the only way he can stay close enough to Mari to protect her is to use some of his less-than-honest talents. She is the only witch who can ease the agony of being a Watcher, and the only woman in the world he wants. Then Mari’s house is broken into and her roommates slaughtered, and in order to save his witch, Hanson is going to have to become more vicious than the Dark—even though it might mean losing her forever.

That’s right, the second of the Watcher books, re-edited and with a brand-new cover, is now available in ebook! The paper edition takes longer to propagate out, so please, please wait a bit until you see the new cover at your book retailer of choice!

I’m really glad to get these books redone and prettified. I have a soft spot for the Watchers. Longtime Readers will also be happy to know that everyone’s favorite demon librarian, and the Society group, are also scheduled to be re-edited in 2015. Pretty cool, huh?

Mental Muscles

quote-card-lilith-saintcrow That’s right, Pack is on sale through the holiday season. A story to keep you warm, as it were.

Frost is thick over everything this morning. I’ll have to wait a bit before I head out on my run. Fortunately it’s a short one–I’ve finished one training program and begun another, this one designed to build my base. So it’s kind of like going back to square one, though not to the place where I couldn’t run for thirty seconds without gasping and wanting to puke and pass out, not necessarily in that order. Instead of pushing myself through a long run, instead I’m forcing myself to stop just when I’ve gotten warmed up. It’s exercising a different set of mental muscles, that’s for sure.

Also exercising a different set of mental muscles: piano practice. I now have the third minuet down and am working on refining it, and have moved on to a polonaise. I picked through the right-hand bit of it last night during practice. Going back to the beginning in my old lesson-book is beginning to bear fruit, I’ve slowed down and am playing even the three-minute-theory bits several times, really thinking about what it’s supposed to teach me. Since my teacher’s gone to Florida–I wanted to shift to another teacher, but the receptionist at the lessons-place was so rude and dismissive to me I decided not to–I’m left to pick through on my own, using the internet to answer questions I can’t figure out for myself. It’s nice to have a teacher, but it’s also nice to go at my own pace, beating my head on the problems in my own fashion. I’m sure I’m not playing Bach right, of course, but it satisfies me and that’s all I care about now. Once I have the minuets in my fingers I’ll slow down again and play with the metronome. It’ll be a whole new series of problems for me to gnash my teeth over!

I meant to get the sample chapters for Agent Trinity done yesterday, but finishing The Poison Carnival seems to have scraped my brain dry. I barely squeezed a thousand words out. Today, though, I’m ready and raring to go, and my (short and freezing) morning run will be devoted to getting the next scene or two right inside my head. Later, the whole skeleton and arc of the book will become apparent, but right now I have to find the right beginning. Start well to end well, I guess.

I should also haul the Yule tree out of storage. The kids have been giving little longing glances at our neighbor’s light-bedecked house. Tis the season, and all that.

Back to it, then. Let us kick Tuesday in the pants, dear Readers.

Dry East

Winter fairy The dry, east-wind part of winter–the Gorge is a giant wind tunnel–is the least fun for me. Everything gets desiccated: houseplants, dogs, the tender skin around the mouth. The new windows are holding up, despite a little condensation. I much prefer when the rains move in, even though everything starts to smell of moss and other less-savory things. The weekend was full of yard work, things like planting fava beans (they overwinter well here and fix nitrogen in the soil) and getting stormwrack into piles for the landscapers. I had to rake, which is normally not my favorite thing, but it’s really not so bad when someone isn’t going to take a belt to you if you don’t get every leaf.

Dawn is coming up as I write this, the children mostly ready for school, Odd Trundles snoring on the dogbed. Miss B, who would normally nose him off the bed or take the lion’s share of it for herself, is instead supervising the making of school lunches, hoping to be paid with a dab of peanut butter for her efforts. There is very little she won’t do for peanut butter or Cheetos.

The cedars outside my office window have stopped tossing. I pause and stare at them for a while, usually while getting the next string-sentence together in my head. Today I start on the sample chapters for the second Agent Zero book, and there’s word count on Rattlesnake Wind and the second Gallow book to catch up with. Plus, bread to make–the Little Prince requested “Mombread,” which is what he calls my 50% poolish loaves. He likes it toasted, with butter and a fried egg, in the mornings. I should also get up on the roof and deal with the storm debris there, always one of my favorite things.

All in all, it’s a Monday. I’d better stop staring out the window and get started on the rest of the day.

Over and out.

photo by: katmary

Value Added

happy Having a story engine in your head is weird. Even when you’re dreaming about helping the Longbeards defend Moria, you’re trying to solve the problem of an elf’s never-empty quiver. Five different types of arrows, and each time I pulled one out, I whispered a charm to replace it. Tiring work, since even in dreams, the energy for magic had to come from somewhere. Plus, there were Ents to talk to, and all sorts of sneaking around in the dark to figure out what the orcs were going to do next, and to top it all off, there was no Richard Armitage as Thorin.

I feel sort of cheated. But then, well, I was just on the outside approaches to Moria, with the orcs coming from outside, so I suppose it was more Second Age, Thorin probably hadn’t even been born yet. I missed Durin, too, which sucks. I would have liked to talk with him, even just in a dream.

Yesterday was a bit bizarre, between the icky stuff and the sudden layoff of a beloved editor that I had just sold two books to. Publishing is a funny business, and the tone-deaf way this particular layoff was handled makes me very nervous about the future for those two books, or indeed, submitting to that particular publisher again. Especially since I suspect the reasoning was cost-cutting, without consideration of the value a well-respected, well-loved editor brings to any publisher. Extremely shortsighted and handled very badly–but at least the editor in question will almost certainly find work elsewhere, and I intend to keep submitting to her. Once one finds an editor one likes and respects, one tends to follow them from publisher to publisher, if one can. I wonder if this particular dynamic was why the layoff was handled the way it was–to stave off author flight, maybe?

Of course, when a publisher achieves a certain size, there tends to be a myopic idea that writers are easily replaceable, given the vast amounts of slush and dreck that pour in. The numbers are so large–anyone can submit, and the lists of self-published offerings at Amazon and elsewhere will convince one that indeed, anyone does–that it seems an economy of scale question, when it isn’t. It takes time, diligence, and craft to consistently produce a readable product, and none of those are cheap.

But perhaps I’m biased.

Today: fog, wordcount, another five-mile run. More listening to Joan Osborne, who I just found out has another album out. She’s doing good things for Rattlesnake Wind, even though most of that book’s soundtrack is turning out to be Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. I’ve been having good luck with a speaker placed behind me, so the music isn’t coming from the front–as my writing partner often remarks, music coming from the front makes one want to stop and listen or analyze it, and that takes energy that should be spent on the writing.

Happy Friday, chickadees. May it be everything a Friday should be.

photo by: huntz

It Never Does

come n say 'hello' to my new friend This morning, running behind the Little Prince’s old school, a dragonfly kept pace with me and Miss B for a long while. I would have thought it too cold for such a companion, but there he was, buzzing along.

Miss B, of course, didn’t care that we were accompanied. She was too busy tripping over her own paws, craning her neck to see if anyone else had brought their canine to the park for walkies. The lure of another furry four-legs is impossible for her to resist; it’s right up there with schoolbuses and potentially sticking her nose up the UPS guy’s shorts. Yesterday she launched herself towards the front door from the stairs, a banner event that ended with an inglorious splat and me scolding her roundly because she could have broken a leg, for God’s sake. She, of course, hung her head, but none of the scolding penetrated. *sigh* It never does.

Today’s Election Day, I sent in my ballot last week, like a good little civics-trained monkey. Even if you disagree with me on politics, please vote. Like the Rude Pundit, I dream of voter turnout some day reaching two-thirds, and I further dream of the rampant disenfranchisement of college kids and people of color sinking into the stream of history as an embarrassing, deservedly failed gambit by silly plutocrats.

Hey, everyone can have a dream, right?

I’m considering dusting off the old podcast. I have the microphone, and some royalty-free music to put on there, but god damn it if I hate editing soundclips together to make it sound halfway decent. Maybe I’ll just do a reading of a chapter? I wonder…if I was to do a reading, which book would you guys like to hear a chapter from?

There, that’s my intense question for the day. Now I get to go make tea, then get Gallow and Robin into a whole heap of trouble involving the Wild Hunt. Also, I need to figure out when a character in another book drowns. Choices, choices.

And that, I suppose, is all I have to say this morning.

photo by: linh.ngan